New Engalnd Patriots: That time Rob Gronkowski went beast mode

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Rob Gronkowski
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Rob Gronkowski /

During the 2017 NFL season, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski turned in some memorable performances, including one that Pro Football Focus has labeled the best single-game performance by a tight end.

Let’s take a break from the Rob Gronkowski retirement rumors and re-visit that time during the regular season when the New England Patriots tight end lit up the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the team’s 27-24 thriller at Heinz Field, Gronkowski simply went beast mode.  Not only was he uncoverable, he caught everything in sight as Tom Brady and Gronk connected for 69 yards on the go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter.

There was one play where Gronkowski made a shoe string catch.  The play not only displayed the All-Pro tight end’s athleticism and determination during the play, it also showcased his flexibility.  For a man who had back surgery almost a year prior, it showed how healthy Gronkowski was and how dominant he is when dialed in.

Overall in that game, Gronkowski caught 9 passes for 168 receiving yards, earning a perfect 99.9 overall grade in what Pro Football Focus labeled the best single-game performance by a tight end in 2017.

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It was not only Rob Gronkowski’s pass-catching barrage (mostly against Steelers safety Sean Davis) put him on top, it was his run-blocking performance as well.  In that game, he also earned an 88.9 run-blocking grade further demonstrating how important he is to the New England Patriots offense.

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While the dominance of Rob Gronkowski continued the following week and then again in Super Bowl LII, that single game was one of the best performances of his career.  He literally took the team on his shoulders and led them back in a game in which the Steelers seemingly had control of.

In his words, he was simply in a zone.  Tom Brady praised that zone when talking about the tight end’s performance following that December game.

"“He was doing it himself,” Brady said.  “I think they were trying to challenge us and he made a lot of good plays.  Other guys make a lot of good plays too, but when he’s open he gets it.  It was just a great game by him.  He played so, so great.”"

Brady went on to talk about how Gronkowski kept getting free in that game.  The way he separated himself and won the tough matchups is why he is so valuable to Brady.

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It is also why fans are hoping the most dominant tight end in New England Patriots history returns in 2018.